Planner’s Perspective: 5 Questions to Help You Select the Perfect Wedding Venue

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If you’ve been dreaming about your wedding for your entire life (or even just for the last year or so), chances are that at least a few of those dreams have included a very specific setting. But whether you’re instinctively drawn to the rustic ambiance of a ranch wedding or have a more traditional ballroom affair in mind, there are a few essential questions every couple should consider before booking a venue for the Big Day. Ask yourself these five questions to ensure that your wedding venue is a perfect fit, then prepare to ink those final contracts with confidence!

Planner's Perspective | Wedding Venues

Question One: “Indoor or outdoor?”

Consider this basic question your starting point when identifying potential wedding and reception venues. Answering it from the get-go will automatically simplify your search!

Outdoor ceremony at The Four Seasons Dallas | more from this wedding here | Karlisch Photography

Indoor ceremony at The Four Seasons Santa Fe | see more here | Cameron & Kelly Studio

Question Two: “How would you describe your style?”

When it’s time to start narrowing down your options, think about your personal style. Are you drawn to modern and contemporary looks with a preference for clean lines? Consider booking a museum for your ceremony or reception—The Modern in Fort Worth, The Nasher, and the Dallas Museum of Art are all beautiful options that don’t necessarily require a lot of extra table décor.

Reception at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth | Sarah Kate, Photographer

Reception at the Dallas Museum of Art | F8 Studio

On the other hand, if your tastes are very traditional, a church ceremony and a reception at a hotel ballroom or country club might appeal to you. The Crescent, The Ritz, Arlington Hall, Brook Hollow Country Club, and Dallas Country Club are just a few examples of venues with a very classic feel!

Highland Park Presbyterian Church | more from this wedding here | Sarah Kate, Photographer

Rosewood Mansion | DFW Events | Jess Barfield Photography

Rosewood Mansion | DFW Events | Jess Barfield Photography

Rosewood Mansion, Dallas | Jess Barfield Photography

Question Three: “What are my décor and rental needs?”

If questions one and two have helped you determine that an outdoor wedding in a setting that is not typically used as an event space—this includes a ranch, field, or even your own backyard—is for you, keep in mind that you will most likely need to bring in absolutely everything from the ground up. We’re talking tables, chairs, linens, and back-of-house catering rentals, plus a trucking service, a generator, a dance floor, and a valet company just to name a few. You will also need to secure an air-conditioned tent in case of rain or extreme temperatures on your wedding day. Don’t let that scare you, though. If you’re open to the idea of managing these additional details or have hired an event planner to help manage them for you, this can be an extremely rewarding way to build a completely unique event space!

Tented reception at a private residence | see more wedding details here | Sarah Kate, Photographer

Backyard Wedding | Photography by Jason Kindig

Backyard reception at private residence | Jason Kindig Photography

By contrast, country clubs, ballrooms, and other traditional event venues maintain a supply of house linens, house chairs, tables, and in-house catering rentals, and will also provide your catering services. While this option will probably save you some time, it won’t always save you money—especially if you’re planning to outfit the space with custom décor, which will require sourcing outside vendors.

Reception at the Dallas Country Club | Kiss Me For Eternity, Thisbe Grace & Co.

Question Four: “What are my power and sound needs?”

If you’re planning to have a live band at your ceremony or reception, ensure that your venue has the necessary power and circuits. A back-up generator will be required if your power needs exceed your venue’s capability or if you’re planning an outdoor wedding. And don’t forget to inquire about lighting! Some venues keep their lighting on dimmers, which provides a built-in transition from dinner to the dance floor, whereas other spaces might benefit from an additional lighting package.

Southern Hills | DFW Events | Stephen Karlisch Photography

Custom build-out at Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa | Karlisch Photography

Question Five: “How much time do I need for set-up?”

Load-in and strike times are of major importance for your vendors, so make sure to ask your potential venue what time set-up can begin on the day of your wedding. Dedicated event spaces will typically allow set-up to begin early in the day, but locations that primarily function as public spaces—think art galleries and restaurants—might restrict set-up to after the five o’clock hour. If you choose a venue with this kind of time constraint, be prepared to pay an additional fee to cover the cost of the extra laborers it will take to prep your event space in a shortened time frame.

Reception at The Four Seasons Dallas | more details here | Karlisch Studio

The bottom line? Spend some time thinking about the look and feel of your wedding as a whole, and then choose the venue and vendors that are best equipped to bring that vision to life!

In need of even more inspiration? Stop by our “Venues” board on Pinterest, and don’t miss our  feature “From the Ground Up: How to Create an Event Space for Your Wedding Day” in the Winter 2018 issue of Inside Weddings.